I have a pet-hate. Hotels that claim to be dog-friendly and then refuse your pooch access to any public areas. I will grant that some dining spaces are simply not suitable, but when you do decide to take your impeccably behaved bundle of fur away with you, it’s nice to actually share the experience, including meal times, without having to relegate them to a bedroom they don’t even recognise.
This is definitely not the case with the family-run Red Carnation Hotels, who offer a unique VIP (Very Important Pet) service at each of their 17 five-star international properties, including a selection of luxury beds to suit your dog’s size and shape, a toy, food and water bowls, an embroidered towel (handy when they get caught in the rain), and treats galore including a turn-down dog snack. A dog walking and sitting service ensures they are never lonesome even if you can’t always be with them, or you can arrange a Pet Spa Day Experience (£99) in conjunction with The Pet Spa London to give them the full pampering they deserve. Bonkers but wonderful.
Best of all, your dog can accompany you into all Red Carnation bars and restaurants, and they even offer Doggy Dinner, Breakfast and Room Service menus to satisfy the pickiest of eaters. Yes, your four-legged friend will be given as much hospitality as yourself, as we were delighted to discover last winter when we checked into the newly refurbished Rubens at the Palace for a Christmas shopping trip. As Clemmie, our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s one and only hotel experience, she is now spoiled for life and can’t possibly be left behind.
To take things one paw-step further, Red Carnation’s exclusive, individually designed 28-room Egerton House Hotel in Knightsbridge (a tail-wag from the Brompton Road and the V&A Museum) have launched a Doggy Afternoon Tea to be served alongside your Traditional version of sandwiches, scones and cakes, in their elegant ivory drawing room, with handsome bow window overlooking the well-to-do Egerton Terrace. They also offer Gluten-Free, Vegan and Vegetarian menus for humans, illustrating just how accommodating they are.
As for the Doggy Afternoon Tea it was nothing if not a brave idea, for surely it could have been sheer chaos – a room filled with priceless antiques and all manner of dogs ready to play. Yet somehow it’s a surprisingly sedate meet-and-greet, as if the animals sense their owner’s keen eye and the appropriate behaviour to adopt in such opulent surroundings. But then, I expect they all want to be invited back.
Just when my dear little pooch, with her mesmerising Cavalier eyes, exclaimed ‘Poor me!’ as I sipped my exquisite Flowering Osmanthus JING tea and tucked into my delicious Egerton sandwiches, Clemmie too was presented with a three-tier bowl-stand filled with home-made chicken and beef meatloaf she couldn’t get enough of, freshly prepared dog biscuits and a natural doggy ice cream for dessert.
There is also doggy Pawsecco or doggy beer available should you wish to cheers your best pal with your glass of fizz. Clemmie got to keep the heart-shaped dog chew toy that kept her amused when she’d had her fill of meatloaf, a useful diversion as I was still making my way through the divine pastries including a lemon curd cupcake, black forest gateau with black cherry liqueur, cream and black cherries, raspberry mille feuille, strawberry tart filled with cream and custard, peach and Amaretto trifle topped with fresh vanilla custard, and Amaretto and blackberry macarons.
Boy was I glad to leap onto the four-poster bed awaiting me upstairs, so too was Clemmie delighted to find a giant paw-shaped dog bed ready to cosy up in, the four-poster equivalent. She didn’t stir for hours and in turn lulled me to sleep with her contented sighs and meatloaf snores. Somehow, however, she was ready for a room service snack come the evening, presented on a smart tray with a red carnation. Surely going away with your dog has never been more decadent or amusing?
Doggy Afternoon Tea at Egerton House Hotel is priced at £25, the Traditional Afternoon Tea starts from £40. Both are available daily from 12.00pm – 6.00pm. For more information and reservations for Egerton House Hotel, 17-19 Egerton Terrace, London SW3 2BX, please visit the website.